Defeat Self-Inflicted Failure!

The deepest pitfall for both competitive athletes and people in general is the spirit of fear. Learn about the different types of fear and effective ways to defeat your greatest fears.
All Articles Are Republished With Permission

In all my years as a strength coach and sports hypnotherapist, the greatest hindrance to achieving greatness is not lack of talent, faulty nutrition, or even inferior physical preparation. The deepest pitfall for both competitive athletes and people in general is the spirit of fear.

Yes, fear is a spirit in that different people develop different fears. In other words, fears are not universal or everyone would possess the exact same apprehensions. However all fears have the same origin ... deception.

The Many Faces Of Fear

Fear comes in many shapes and sizes. The main point to realize is that "feeling fear" does not make you a coward. Any person who dares battle outside his or her familiar elements is, in essence, a warrior. A true warrior is one who "feels fear" but does not either fight it or succumb to it. That said no fear should ever be acceptable to exist in one's life.

Again, "feeling" fear and living in fear are two different things.

No Fear!

Anyone who says they never feel fear is either lying to you or destined for a life of mediocrity, at best. To try to resist the feeling of fear is in actuality feeding it and giving it its only life ... you. Fear does not exist without a person either fighting it or trying to avoid it. Trying to fight a fear is like shadow boxing. I mean literally "boxing a shadow" in that you eventually give out of exhaustion or despair. This is where the truth about fear is revealed. The only fear is "the fear of fear itself"!

The spirit of fear rears its ugly head when we identify too closely with something that is not stable, or something we might lose. For instance, how others see you, or determining your worth as a human being, through what you do each day is depending on what is unstable to provide stability. This "instability" breeds a spirit of fear. Self-worth qualities need be in place before you go into a performance of any kind.

If you go into a competition with your self-worth up for grabs, you'll be engulfed with the "what if?" thinking that floods your mind with fear. Fear is a constrictive emotion that prevents optimal performance. Now, you can transfer that negative emotion into excitement and use that adrenaline rush as a productive state that will heighten your sense of awareness and place you in that sought-after "zone." The best athletes we see do this include Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, and many others. Of course, Bruce Lee epitomized this state and wrote about it in great depth.

Why Athletes Fail

Many athletes fail not because of lack of desire but because they think they have more to lose than others. What you think about expands. Imagine you were 20 stories high walking on a 3-foot plank and thought "what if I fall?"

Your legs turn to jelly and your fight or flight mechanism kicks-in and you feel trapped. But, is this serving your best interest at this time? How is this instance really different than being 2-feet off of the floor on that same plank? Perception of what you have to lose!

A fighter going into a match with the primary purpose of "not getting hit" is going to be eating canvas before his mouthpiece is in place. This "trying not" is another way of saying "I fear." Yes, you want to protect yourself but not from a passive perspective. In life, a good offense is the best defense.

To better clarify this previous statement, a non-passive life is the best protection for there are certainly times where defense is needed but it will be anything but passive if successful.

Win-Win Situations

We must live from a win-win viewpoint. I know there are many who think they perform better with the "fear of losing" being present. They will say, "My motivation is the fear of losing." Well, how would you feel if your significant other said that they were motivated to love you out of their "fear of losing hold of you"? Would that alter your view of their "love" for you?

Well, people who believe "fear of losing" is a good motivator don't really put their sense-of-worth on the line. They are simply trying to control their environment to maintain the status quo. They might have fear of losing a match but they are not identified with winning and losing like some people are.

A bold person is one who puts his or her butt on the line day in and day out, risking vulnerability, because they are already secure in their worth as a human being. The only way to overcome vulnerability to refuse to protect your "invulnerability"!

The key is in turning that fear into faith. Faith is the reciprocal of fear and faith's presence defeats the spirit of fear every time. Again, your self-worth need already be intact before a competition, or even a workout, in order for you to get into that zone where your mind and body are finely coordinated to perform in optimal fashion. The way to get that self-worth in place is to see yourself as a leader.

We were all made by our Creator to lead in the environment you presently reside, no matter if it's simply your home, your gym, around your friends, your job, or in a greater scale as a professional athlete. When you put yourself in the mindset of a leader, you accept the responsibility to lead by example and take the attention off of your self. You take hold of faith in the purpose you having being greater than just your self-preservation. You take risks that deny the need for self-image preservation.

This is what allows you to "be free of me" and the fear of losing what you have dies. That old constrictive emotion will turn into passion and be expansive to the point of transcending former limits. Your attention is purely on the present moment and you see everything as opportunity instead of obligation.

Listen Up And Believe!

You, as a courageous man or woman, are intact. You are free to let go and grow. Your mind is unleashed to dream and imagine beyond perceived limitations of the past. The clarity of you having only the present moment to make an impact becomes your focus. Each moment in time becomes the canvas of your life as you orchestrate your desired vision into reality.

Yes, you possess that inner power to fulfill your potential by taking it one moment at a time. The past is gone and the future is but a prospect. What you choose right now determines what effect the past had on you and what affect you will have on the future. You leave that baggage from the past behind and press forward without compromise. You don't worry about tomorrow for only today's success paves the way for the future.

This beyond-the-fear mindset is vital in injury prevention in your training as well as in athletic performance, public speaking, relationship/business confrontations, and anything else that brings feelings of constriction and fright. Eliminate the "what if?" thinking and you'll see that there is really nothing to lose. It's the "fear of injury" that sets the stage for such occurrence.

An Example

Take a football player that goes out onto the field with the primary purpose of "not getting hurt." Those thoughts will be like a heat-seeking missile to bring about the very thing that he does not want. It goes for any situation in life. Get in front of 1,000 people to speak, and your prime objective is to "do not forget" what you want to say, or "don't look like an idiot," and you'll probably choke on your own words, or at best give a compromised presentation.

The most common replies I get upon my advice to just let go are, "But if I don't care about winning anymore I'll just have to settle for second best." Or, "If I don't fear losing, what if I don't give my best?"

Letting go allows what is higher than you to work in your favor. You, in just your own effort are not capable of actualizing your potential. Plain old will power and hard work, while important, are not enough for a life of victory any more than it would be trying to force a frayed thread through the eye of a needle. If you don't let go and allow that inner faith and trust to work for you, you will never realize your potential.

By "trying not to fail" all you are doing is protecting your mediocrity. Yes, it's a risk to achieve greatness. It's that same risk I mentioned earlier that all warriors, and true winners in life, must take. It's risking it all for the sake of winning it all. You are going to have to risk what is known to win the unknown. We all have certain apprehensions and a desire for "self-protection" that feels threatened at certain times.

The Good News

The good news is that all you are really risking is the person who fears losing what he or she thinks they presently own (their self-image). And, you have already discovered that you do not really possess you own image of yourself anyway. Other people do through their opinions of you. That can all change right now. Tomorrow is one of the biggest fallacies of life-it never gets here!

What you think protects you from what you fear losing is the source of your fear!

Turn the tables on fear and take a "you gotta beat me" approach to life. What you entertain in your mind will manifest in the physical world. Forget about being responsible for how others will see you or what they themselves might be going through. You be that fear-transcendent warrior who is governed by faith and fueled by passion.

Be attentive to the process of each moment and realize that anything you can "lose" is not worth worrying about in the first place. By taking this mindset, you are ensuring that you will be at your best to attract the successes that you so heartily desire. Feel that fearful thought flow through you and see it as the enemy's last-ditch effort to cause you to doubt.

Incidentally, the bigger the prize the greater the temptation to go into fear so acknowledge what tries to come against you as validation of the value (and sweetness) of your pending victory. And, the only way to ensure you are at your best is the faith that counteracts that spirit of fear. Then, no matter where the results land you, you'll have that indescribable peace and courage that leads you on to greater victories.

Unlock Your Potential

Your victory over the spirit of fear is the key that unlocks your potential and the peace to be content with the result without being complacent. In defeating fear, you engage faith that knows no limits in regard to time and space and accomplishes what conventional wisdom says is impossible.

Vince McConnell

This book is 225 pages in paperback form, but can also be purchased as an e-Book that is only 5 Mb to download. In Renegade Training for Football, Coach Davies presents you with his full program for gridiron mastery.